Friday, August 29, 2008
Well, one thing about the 2008 election, size really doesn't seem to matter.
Joe Biden, the Dem VP candidate, is one of two senators from teeny, tiny Delaware, the 2nd smallest state in the union. There are roughly 853,000 people claiming to live in Delaware.
Sarah Palin, the 'Pub's choice for VP in the upcoming election, is the current first term (barely 2 years into that term) governor of our largest state, Alaska. Aside from grizzlies, elk, and caribou there are around 670,000 people living up there.
Gov. Palin is 44 years old, thus reducing the combined average age of the Republican team from 72 to 58.
Senator Obama just turned 49, which means that in combo with Joe Biden's 65, the Dems' combined average age is 57. So, basically, the rival parties Prez-VP choices are of a joint equal age.
The whole experience question is now totally confusing. The Republicans have the more experienced presidential candidate while the Democrats clearly have the edge on accomplishments and track records.
This election season will be very, very interesting.
Labels: Only in America
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Delightful, An Overusage.
A New Yorker review, delightful, but of course, by David Denby is here.
This is so...delightful. Can't wait when the movie hits Philly.
8/29 Addendum: Today's NYT's review.
A little (No, make that a huge) aside:
Whenever a cousin and I would get into conversation regarding the most beautiful place in the world to go for vacation, the topic of tourists would come up. I would tend to take in the information he passed on to me with a touch of disbelief, in part due to the, as he puts it, the "Americanization" of myself. If I protested even a bit about the broad generalizations that he would make as regards certain European nationalities, he'd shake his head and say, "Pa pogledaj se; bas si postao Amerikanac!" ("Why look at yourself; you really are an American!"). His inflection at the end of the sentence left no doubt that I'd fallen a few rungs in his estimation of me as a cognitive being. Granted, when I think back on my early days, living with generalizations was a much less complicated life. Individualization, as far as foreigners was concerned, was a lot of work and, at that feeble-minded state I was in, usually not worth the time. It seemed as if the generalization were, in general, fairly true. Living in the States, I admit, has deburred the sharp edges of my opinions. The broadening of my views has also made them more elusive. A polite-speak gaseous salve has been applied to the short, sharp, definitive quips. It's not as if my cousin, or my family over in Croatia, were unique in their firm and frothing opinions of other peoples. That view was shared by quite a few of folks over in the continent. ACLU would experience total and utter exhaustion dealing with the insulting views that different groups publicly exhibited. While I admitted to my cousin that perhaps living over here has worn down (I preferred the gentler, more uplifting "smoothed over") my opinions regarding nationalities, I argued that he, perhaps, should tone down his rhetoric especially if he's within earshot of the foreign tourists that he is potentially insulting. He especially had it in for the Czechs, as he continually harped on their cheapness, specifically exhibited when they came to the Croatian seaside in their of flotilla of Škodas. Well, now it seems that the government of Croatia has taken these skinflint comments to heart and will be enforcing rules specifically aimed at the Czechs.
Personally, I empathize with the Czechs. I understand their situation as "it’s also a problem of taste. Because Czechs like the taste of Czech sausages, Czech yoghurt and so on - a lot of them prefer their lovely taste. And of course they want also to save money." While the salamis available in the States are large in number, there really is not, IMHO, any salami like Gavrilovic. So, while I will remain neutral on the alleged thriftiness of the Czechs, I will definitely be in their corner as far as their right to bear arms, I mean salami, of their own choice.
(An aside here, the article just linked, from the CBS News site, was written by a certain Maria Gavrilovic. Now, for any living and breathing Croatian, one's mouth is watering at the mention of the name Gavrilovic. It is food that simply mentioning of can cause dementia in any native who is unluckily away from a Gavrilovic point of purchase. There is salami and then there is Gavrilovic. And now, back to the less spicy topic of politics).
I wonder, if buried somewhere deep in their site, to show their equanimity, the RNC has been keeping a DubyaMeter for our current White House resident's. The time since Biden's last gaffe is over 3 days; don't think they'd have to have a day-counter for the Prez. Hours would be sufficient. Just evidence of that old adage that what you despise/deplore in others is in great abundance in your own skin. The Decider's Party are just such Haters.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Accounting & Godot
A dog offers no such respite from care; it is a digitgrade mammal, moving almost from its initial birth. As anyone knows who's raised puppies, the food and water processing timetable for these delightful creatures is based on minutes or, if not that frequent, days. A caretaker is perpetually Waiting for Poop, as the requirement for walking one's dog may occur, like, RIGHT NOW, or possibly the next day. This perpetual waiting
I see pictures of people walking their dogs and I wonder if that could be me one day. Nicely dressed, showered, hair arranged.
I doubt it. I'm lucky if I'm not mistaken for a terrorist when I go walk our dog. Sloppy t-shirt, hair issues, sleep-deprived scowl. It's not a pretty sight. Luckily, there are quite a few people in our neighborhood that have a similar problem and a similar look, so the corrective inducement of shame hasn't poked its "tsk-tsk" in our pusses. We nod at each other as we walk by. We do not congregate together like dog-owners of more mature, more in-control canines as we don't want to be mistaken as a cabal. As I schlump through our neighborhood, I stare, with envy, at the porch stoops where a cat lies, staring at my little expeditionary party while its owner, nicely dressed and coiffed for sure, lays on his/her couch eating bon-bons.
I've been assured by friends-with-Fidos that this period will pass....pass like in 8 months. They ask me if he's gone through "the numbers" and I reply that his A/P's (Accounts Poo-able and Accounts Pee-able) are duly being debited. And if they're not, I'm out there in the heat of summer, making dunning calls with all of the other humans and their pickup bags.
Is Barko the best dog ever? You bet! Is my blood pressure down? My hair growing back? My physique returning to 1970's form? My smile glistening less of sardonicism? Well, yes on some of those things. My TV-watching is down considerable; my book-reading up. All good things. But...the feeling that what little control I thought I had of my life is slowly slipping, as Barko pleads with me just one more time to play with him, is strong. Come December/January, we'll see how this dog thing settles out. There's hope he'll be full trained and be using the toilet and flushing each time (not just once in a while) after he's done his thing(s). I mean, all those bars with their separate Pointers and Setters stalls give me the courage to see his waste facility training to the end! There is a bathroom light at the end of this walking tunnel, right?
Maybe the trick is to get a second dog. Not a puppy, though. A dog with some self-control would do.
n.b.:My kwetching here is done to hide the fact that the Ever Loving Wife takes care of this "issue" 80% of the time to my measly 20%. While I moan and groan about the walking thing, she notes that she's met quite a lot of nice folks who have interesting tales to relate both of their dog and of themselves. It seems that we did not exist in our neighborhood, according to some of these folks, until we were out there scooping the poop. Shit is truly happening.
Labels: Domestic Burdens
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Driving into Lewes, DE with Ry Cooder's " Waitin' For Some Girl" cranked up (most probably too high) just because it's summer, it's Ry Cooder, and the sun will be setting shortly.
Cruising through Lewes, DE with Ry Cooder's "Fernando Sez" cranked up on the car stereo. (Please excuse the BASS!!)
Review's of this summer's best CD's is here and here.
Labels: Road Trips
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A Reading Place
The company I'd joined had manufacturing plants in Maryland, Vermont, and upstate New York. In my position at the firm, I had to make repetitive and long-stay visits to all three plants, working at each facility on a rotating 1 week basis. While the plants in Vermont and New York were, I hate to use the word but it is so true, in bucolic areas it meant I'd be far away from the ELW and son from Monday through Friday during his formative years and our formative marriage. The fact that everything turned out so well these many years later can only be credited to the ELW's patience, resolve, and devotion.
As I was soon to discover, the company I'd joined with thoughts of staying with for a while was a company that seemed destined to be around considerably less than a while. Quality issues combined with an incalcitrant union incapable of seeing the fully-loaded Chinese freight train coming up over the horizon and cash flow issues requiring daily hand-wringing at the local bank made it obvious that I'd be in job search mode from the second week of my employment. In the mean while, the proverbial bread or bacon or whatever I was supposed to be bringing home had to be provided, so I stayed with the inevitably doomed firm for a year.
It was an intense 365 days, a period I look back on with wonder that our little family survived and one that I look back in pleasure for each day that began with an anxious exhaling of that night's dreams and nightmares. We were young and relatively naive about surviving tight and unpredictable times. The sun was always shining despite the occasional cumulonimbus plowing through.
From my end of that year's events, each 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. day was jam-packed with minutiae and dooms to get through to the next day. As it wasn't my company, my plant, it became easier (and self-preserving) to step back sometimes and look at the sucking whirlpool that swallowed our daily efforts. What also kept my sanity intact was reading; it offered a sedative that staring at a motel TV screen could not provide. One of the books I read during that time was Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes. Prior to my weekly stays in Watertown, I'd never heard of the book, first published in 1968, nor its author, Mr. Exley. The New York plant I spent some time at was located just outside of Watertown, NY. A local bookstore was toting local authors and Frederick Exley, a writer with a truly tragic life, was a Watertown native.
"A Fan's Notes", not a chipper novel, was a perfect book for me to read at the time. A story measured in tonnage as far as depressing goes, it put my own situation in perspective. Beautifully written, no, make that obsessively written, the main character, a "fictitious" Mr. Exley, moved at a sluggish pace through the heap of his life. It's a book I loved reading but one that, like Mr. Schaub, I would not urge any friend to read as I would not want to be connected with the long term deep mood that reading this book would bring.
What struck me most about the book and what I always come back to is how Exley's Watertown and "my" Watertown were so similar. After reading one of his chapters, I went out in the late evening and just drove around the downtown square of Watertown and then out to the beautiful farms and fields surrounding the town. One early summer evening, I even made it up to Alexandria Bay, where the darkening blue skies were streaked by the quickest moving cloud formations I'd ever seen. My experiences up in the Watertown area are inseparable from Exley's book and "A Fan's Notes" is part and parcel with my months up North. I can't imagine reading that book anywhere else than in Watertown. I've tried picking it up again to read in another location and have had no success. It's the same odd thing with Steinbeck's East of Eden. Part of a summer soon after college was spent lolling about in Sidari on Corfu. A trip to Corfu town for some cheap gyros ended up with the pickup of Steinbeck's book. I spent a few days on some of the rock formations just soaking up the rays and Steinbeck's words. Sidari and "East of Eden" are forever entwined for me, each partner in this reading marriage evoking the other.
How about you folks? Any book/place that are forever joined?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Back in the ol' college days, a female friend of mine went through annual changes come the stronger rays of summer or lower latitudes. We were buds; resembling a sister-brother thing than any other sort of relationship. She was dating a close friend of mine at school and we gradually developed into a mutual story-telling/commiseration scenario halo that surrounded my close friend's exploits/talents/meanderings. It's as if we were collaborating on a college years biography of him. Eventually, she tired of his shenanigans and she broke off her relationship with him but, oddly enough, not with me. We stayed good friends through the balance of my days at school disproving the theory floating around in those days that a guy and gal could really be just friends.
Well, almost disproving that theory.
She, let me call her Sylvie, was French-Canadian which connoted quite a few things. One of the connotations of being Québécois was possessing the trait that one's body would behave as if it were a sunflower. We were going up on a ski-lift one terminally cold bright sunshiny day, I with my scarf wrapped mummy-like around my exposed skin, she with her face tilted at just the right angle to absorb maximum ray-age. "Look", she said pointing to other skiers sitting on the chairlifts in front of us, their heads tilted in the Sylvie angle,"All Québécois." Being an Anthropology major and a native of Province du Québéc , I wasn't about to argue with her. Besides, my scarf would have muffled any pseudo-intelligent argument I'd have presented.
The cold and the limited presence of warm sunshine prompted, I assume, this solar-centric behaviour. Come winter and spring break, Sylvie head off to Florida, the Caribbean, or Mexico with her family or friends. Considering the limited amount of exposure she had in Canada during the fall and winter, I was surprised how much color she had. But, upon her return from places South, she was absolutely Brazilian. A fairly serious and closely-guarded person normally, Sylvie, well really, Sylvie and her tan were a different creature. The extra "coat" she bore lasted 2, maybe 3, weeks, regardless of her futile attempts to maintain the dark armor. As the brown faded, her softer features came back. Her eyes became less calculating and more comforting with each day's passage. Her predatory gait toned down to a sure pace that drew in rather than frightened passersby.
After experiencing the results of a couple of her sojourns, I brought up the topic of her changes and reversions. She was surprised and initially adamant that any changes were on my part and not on hers. She was, after all, a person most interested in finishing her undergraduate academic grazing so that an academic life of permanent pastures was available to her. She took herself quite seriously and hoped that others would as well; this temporary personality change I was suggesting didn't mesh well with her self-vision. It wasn't that I minded seeing these changes in her. There was an unquestionable attractiveness to her Jekkyl/Hyde transformation. Knowing she wasn't to bite my head off or claw me to death made the experience one lacking in death and plentiful in a theatre of one sort of performance. In almost a cruel way, on my part, it was extremely interesting seeing her go through the transformation, in both directions, with nary a clue of the changes happening. The first few times, I was rather uneasy, but after a while, knowing that Sylvie would come back as herself as her bronze skin faded, there was an excitement to see her upon her flight back North.
I confess that I did have my moments of doubt about her changes. I stupidly confided to a mutual and close friend of ours of my observations. She, after observing Sylvie one weekend after Sylvie had returned from a 2 week trip to Cuba, agreed in a voice loud enough (and continuous enough) that my observations were true. Sylvie, hurt that I'd passed on this personality un-masking phenomenon on, flung a few choice curses my way and disappeared down the hallway to her room. Our easy-hanging around days diminished noticeably soon after. We ran into each other at parties or at the college administration offices. At the latter, I was usually eying the employment board, hoping to see names of prospective employers looking for American students to work in Canada. She was there putting in for transcripts mailing to various grad schools deep, deep in the southern parts of the States. I heard that she ended up in a doctoral program in Anthropology in Arizona or Texas. Somewhere where the tan lines were deep and distinct. A place where you were being baked to a color thick enough to clothe and comfort the person within.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Lines to Pick Up On
I'd be completely outdated.
Since the Nerds seem to be Ruling (or is that Rocking) the movie and, hence, the dating world, a list of the top Fifty Nerd Pick-Up Lines is here.
29. What’s your sine? It must be pi/2 because you’re the 1.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Chutzpah - An Illustration
"Mr. Miller’s lawyer, Vincent M. Gerardi, said his client’s claim to the land was sound, and based on the legal doctrine of “adverse possession,” in which someone can claim title to property he has used for a specified number of years. Mr. Miller, his lawyer said, is a small-business owner who simply made good use of a wasted patch of land."
This is certainly a story worth following. Seems that the folks paying for the use of the borrowed lot weren't ticked off at Mr. Miller at all but were in mourning of the closing of the lot.
"Joseph Bhola, sitting next to an orange dump truck, said it was hard to find truck parking lots in the city, especially at the prices Mr. Miller charged: about $300 monthly, or half the price of other lots, depending on the size of the truck. Another trucker, Peter, who would not give his last name, said the closing of the lot was probably the last straw: He would move to Florida. "New York has too many permits, and too many laws", he said."
Merde! Not that Coffee Again.
So, groups and I do not tend to cross paths too often. Yeah, I belong to your usual professional groups, which means you get an annual card and may have to momentarily attend an annual meeting. I view these things as work-related necessities and, at least as far as the meetings go, I try to latch onto the smallest gathering which is usually centered around the most loose bolt in the professional group's structure. The guy or gal with the most outrageous hair tends to be the person I'll gravitate to when the meeting bell rings. A minimal toll it is for me.
But, I'm really going off the path here. What prompted this post was an off the cuff remark a member made as regards the daily brew made by one of our coffee club members at work.
"This coffee tastes like S_ _ T!"
He was right. It even smelled like it. Memory cogs started churning and I recalled a coffee exquisite concoction I'd read about in a paper a while back. Googling, I came up with this. You folks probably recall the $400 per Lb. coffee beans story. I recounted this story to the coffee opinionator and he looked at me with a shifty eye, while backing away from the coffee urn. Luckily, Google provided me with the needed support for what he took as my bulls_ _t story.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This Summer's CD
On Ry Cooder’s latest CD, I, Flathead, he borrows that song’s title and inserts it comfortably, like a slice of capicola (pronounced Gab a gool) in an Italian hoagie, into song #2, "Waitin' For Some Girl". Mr. Cooder, a sly and long-termed borrower of phrase and tune, gets away with this kind of stuff because he has the history, the talent, the chops, and the respect of his fellow songwriters and musicians. The line fits so perfectly in the song, that it rattled around in my head seeking purchase on memories of songs of long ago. There was a familiarity, but a shade removed. That's how "I, Flathead" is. A sound of long ago, of well spent mis-spent Summers of Youth when gas was cheap, cars were not computerized, and yesterday's mistakes were today's prideful tales. It's not that Mr. Cooder has processed old songs into highly produced new versions. All of the songs on the album are branded in his style, with spoken word and sung words intermixing. There is more of his unique guitar-playing here than in any album since Bop 'Til you Drop, IMHO. He's not a speed demon of a guitar-player but rather a deliverer of notes punctuated with sass and humor.
"5,000 Country Songs" and "Johnny Cash" would fit quite well with Mr. Dawidoff’s In the Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music while "Fernando Sez", "Filipino Dance Hall Girl", and "My Dwarf is Getting Tired" continue the spirit of his Chavez Ravine, the first of the Angeleno trio of CD's he's now completed.
All three of the trilogy are excellent albums. My preference is I, Flathead, but that may be only because it's still summer and this is an album to play in your car with the windows rolled down. And Hey! Gas is down to $3.54, so driving around with no particular place to go is a cheap thrill. One to be savored before the pump tries another hold-up on your lifestyle.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Not Necessarily an Honor
On a positive spin, Fortune determined that Croatia has improved from #62 to #42 as best countries to do business in. Wonder if this honor had anything to do with this one? Oiling the wheels of commerce....
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Magic & Persistence
"53. Do you know why Indian rain dances always worked? Because the Indians would keep dancing until it rained."
This pretty much synopsizes a good deal of life's happenings. From magic to faith to completed projects to success at school, nothing beats persistence and an incredible belief in oneself to get to the journey's end successfully.
TOTH to Margaret Howie over at The Bookslut for the link to the article.
For those of you who haven't already seen this slide show, based on Thursday's NYT article on Clingstone, hope you're as impressed as I was. Some may need Dramamine.
For the folks that may have already seen the slide show, does this house's layout feed or suck your soul? Is it an upkeep not worth the experience?
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
30% say ,"Who is on First"
A sample (courtesy of Bruce McCall and The New Yorker):
"Yet, in answer to the question “Would you go before a firing squad to protect higher pollen counts?,” fewer than .03 per cent of those who identified themselves as likely McCain voters understood the question. By a plurality of four to one and counting, not counting those who did not, the Undecideds squared off in a donnybrook with the Don’t Knows, broken up by the Have No Opinions Worth Mentioning. The I Forgets stood on the sidelines."
While I'm on Abbott & Costello, a little YouTube on the math that must have been used over at Freddie's and Fannie's.
Labels: New Yorker
Friday, August 01, 2008
CD Reading List
"I don’t think that many people are buying CDs, and they aren’t looking at the booklets," Mr. (Teddy) Thompson, 32, said. "I love reading that stuff, but the days of booklets are over."" I'm glad someone forgot to tell Nonesuch Records that. On a consistent basis, their CD envelope/container presentation is tops. Interesting pictures, printed lyrics, full production detail, perhaps even a quirky story or liner notes. It's all here! Perfect examples include Ry Cooder's I, Flathead, Nicholas Payton's Into the Blue, Bill Frisell's History, Mystery, Brad Mehldau Trio's latest. While I agree with Mr. Thompson on the ever-decreasing CD sales trend, I totally disagree with him as far as the CD booklets are concerned. I think that a major reason for folks to continue to buy CD's is because of the booklets. When I'm playing some music, I don't want to have to be accessing the internet each time for the album information. A well put together booklet makes the whole CD buying/listening thing much more enjoyable. Do I use the Internet for other album information? Absolutely! But, if I'm putting out money for a CD (and they certainly don't seem to be getting cheaper..yeah, yeah, yeah, the cost of CD's are affected by the price of oil..by a few cents), I don't expect to have to dig up info on the basics of the CD production. Who's playing, who's playing what, song lyrics, some discussion as to how this CD project got going. I think Teddy Thompson is not getting it, especially if you consider that he's a singer/songwriter kind of guy. His listeners absolutely need to see the lyrics if they're putting out the cash for CD's. If he truly thinks CD buyers don't pay attention to the booklet why is he even bothering putting out a CD? Why just not go the complete downloadable route?
Maybe as CD buyers we should unite and refuse to buy any CD issued that doesn't have a minimum of:
1) Playlist and credits for the songs' composers.
2) Players' names & instruments
3) Production staff & recording studio info
4) Complete lyrics to songs
5) Photo or two of (at least) main artist
6) Some verbiage on what the main artist's intent was on the recording (and NO, I don't mean a Mission Statement)
7) Minimally short "Thank You" list. God is only allowed to be mentioned once.
Am I asking too much for my $16.99-$18.99?